Nearly one out of four people age 65 and older have lost all of their teeth, according to the American Academy of Periodontology. Senior adults and the elderly population are faced with a myriad of challenges as their body ages, and their tooth replacement solution should not be an added obstacle. It may seem more practical to opt for dentures instead of a more costly dental implant procedure. However, older adults should consider the potential challenges that could arise from dentures. Choosing dentures could mean more problems than solutions. Here are some common denture pitfalls that could be especially problematic for an elderly patient:
Ill-Fitting Dentures: This is perhaps one of the most common setbacks for those that choose dentures. It is hard to get dentures to fit comfortably and naturally. Ill-fitting dentures cause pain. They can rub on areas of the gum and cause a callus, or epulis, which requires oral surgery to remove. For the elderly, it may be difficult for them to express this pain or articulate exactly why the dentures are not feeling comfortable. They can easily give up on wearing them altogether.
Poor Nutrition: Denture wearers often gravitate towards a soft food diet. Unfortunately, this means that essential, high-fiber fruits and vegetables are neglected. Seniors and the aging population especially need a nutrient dense diet in order to fight other medical complications and keep their energy up.
Maintenance: Dentures require a special toothpaste, toothbrush and denture cream. They also need to be soaked each night. In addition, it is especially important that you handle dentures carefully so they do not break. We know that as we age, we lose dexterity, coordination and even our memory. The denture upkeep may not be ideal for elderly patients, as opposed to dental implants that require no extra maintenance beyond natural teeth.
Reduced Quality of Life: With complications such as discomfort and not being able to eat the foods you once enjoyed, dentures can quickly begin to negatively impact a person’s quality of life. Dental implants, however, can help senior adults smile, laugh, eat and speak with new confidence. An improved quality of life can do wonders for one’s overall health and well-being.
If you or a loved one is facing tooth replacement options late in life, consider the significant pitfalls that dentures could bring. Invest in a better quality of life, healthier diet and needed convenience that dental implants has to offer. Wayne G. Suway, DDS, MAGD is an expert in implant dentistry and he readily educates his senior patients about the modern miracle of dental implants.